Post Poll: climate & energy leadership needed to repair trust & seize opportunities Media Release

Jul 08, 2016 - 11:35am

It is time for federal politicians to show leadership on climate change, not just because it is urgent and the vast majority of Australians, as well as mainstream business, see it as necessary, but because its politicisation is one of the main issues that have eroded public trust in our political process, The Climate Institute said today.

“It is critical that both major parties now act on community and business calls for maturity and leadership on climate and energy policy,” said Climate Institute CEO, John Connor. “Allowing climate and clean energy reforms to succumb to extreme views in the Senate, or to be relegated to the too hard basket, would be gross recklessness for Australia and is entirely avoidable.”

“The overwhelming majority of Australians, including Coalition and regional citizens, grasp the economic, social and environmental opportunities of tackling climate change and reforming the energy sector,” he said. “Politicians, business and the public can and must work better together to achieve solid, constructive progress that will be for the betterment and safety of our country.”

National polling in early June showed two thirds of Australians want our country to be a world leader in finding solutions to climate change, the highest since 2008. An overwhelming majority also think tackling climate change will create opportunities for jobs and investment. Concern about climate change among Coalition voters surged 50 per cent since the 2013 election from 41 to 62 per cent. Concern among regional Australians jumped from 48 per cent to 73 per cent. Tellingly, a mere 17 and 20 per cent of Australians think The Coalition and Labor, respectively, have effective plans to tackle climate change. Only 26 and 27 per cent of voters trust that Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, respectively, are concerned about addressing climate change.

“Mainstream business has joined welfare, environment and union groups in urging the integration of climate and energy policies, recognising the need for net zero emissions while citing legitimate concerns about international competitiveness and highlighting the costs of piecemeal action,” Connor said. “While this election has delivered a challenging Parliament, it hasn’t delivered an excuse for inaction – it has delivered a stark choice between a perhaps surprising political centre, including mainstream business, and extreme views on climate action.”

The Institute’s research during the 2016 election found that four out of the five lower house crossbenchers support credible climate action, with Bob Katter at least supportive of renewable energy projects. Like the Nick Xenophon Team, Derryn Hinch supports 2030 emission reduction targets recommended by the Climate Change Authority and a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Hinch also supports a plan for the phase-out of coal-burning power before 2035, making sure affected workers and communities are supported in the transition.

“It is a matter of fact that The Coalition, Labor, The Greens and Nick Xenophon Team now all support emissions trading and renewable energy, albeit to varying degrees,” Connor said. “Labor and the Greens have stronger policies, but both Labor and the Coalition share support for the Paris climate agreement’s goals of net zero emissions and keeping global warming well below 2 degrees, as well as the pursuit of the optimal 1.5°C goal.”

“As we recommended in our election assessment, The Coalition and Labor can move to close the gap between their policy positions and the expectations of the community and business with three steps: 1) Pre 2050 net zero emission objectives, with credible emission reduction pathways and regular independent processes of review; 2) Economic and community strategies to manage the transition to decarbonisation, and; 3) Integration of climate risks and opportunity assessments into core decision making.”

“Australia has a 2017 federal climate policy review that provides the opportunity for an inclusive, evidence-based, solutions-driven process. Meanwhile, investors, leading businesses and the states and territories should not allow themselves to be left behind in the accelerating global shift to clean energy and innovative, net zero and below economies,” Connor said. “Australians wants real, credible action on climate change - delay by our politicians will further erode Australia’s prosperity and safety, as well as public trust.”

More information: Brinsley Marlay ● Media Manager ● 0422 140 555 

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